“In other words,” [Bree] continued, “you can’t ride. That’s a drawback. I’ll have to teach you as we go along. If you can’t ride, can you fall?”
“I suppose anyone can fall,” said Shasta.
“I mean can you fall and get up again without crying and mount again and fall again and yet not be afraid of falling?”
“I-I’ll try,” said Shasta.
(The Horse and his boy, C.S. Lewis)
Around 3 years ago, I left a church of about 40 people and joined a multi-campus church. Our campus itself (pre-covid of course) probably drew 10 times the attendance of my last church on typical Sunday.
Now, I was really involved in my previous church. But it was really an “all-hands-on deck” situation. If you were willing to put in any measure of work, people were willing to give you something to do. I remember asking to help teach a Sunday School. Around two weeks later, I was the teacher, writing my own lesson plans. That’s just how we did things.
Fast forward to my current church. I jumped into leading a small group with my wife and through serving, had the opportunity to see the inner workings of the church. A part of me thought that with a church like this, everything must be set in stone, completely planned, and surgical. But then I realized something, my new church also did not have everything together. The leadership at my church did not always know the right steps to take next. But they tried. They prayed, they read, they consulted, and they made a choice. Sometimes those choices might be wrong, but nevertheless, they had to be made.
This brings me to why I quoted our friend Bree at the beginning. In spite of (or maybe because of) being a talking horse, Bree has a lot of wisdom. One of the biggest markers of someone who can do a lot for the kingdom of God is the ability to fall. As a community group leader, I’ve tried to implement terrible outreach ideas, I said things I wish I could have said differently, I’ve been underprepared and overconfident. But, in spite of all this, my biggest regrets generally end up being the things I did not do. The secret to successful ministry is to be able to fail miserably and yet to be able to get back up.
This is where the gospel comes in. The beauty of the gospel is that if you believe in Christ, God sees you as he sees Jesus, so your worth is never tied to your performance. This is how you can get back up. It still hurts to fall, but since you are not judged based on what you do, it is not crushing. Your ultimate identify is not in what you do.The gospel frees you from tying your reputation to your performance. In Christ, you are free to try again and again. In Christ, you are free to fall.